You didn’t have to watch last year’s “60 Minutes” episode on teenage cell phone addiction to know that way too many of us are hooked on our phones. Accordingly, at least some of you are trying to figure out how to curb your cell phone addiction. The good news is you’re not alone–literally everyone is at least a little hooked on their phones. That makes phone addiction not just a reality, but a physical and mental health crisis of global proportion.
Furthermore, like cigarette addiction, phone addiction is one that builds upon itself. That is, at first you might find yourself using your phone to curb anxiety. However, the more you use your phone, the worse that anxiety gets when you’re not using your phone. Suddenly, you’re checking your phone to ease a level of anxiety that wasn’t there in the first place. And so the vicious cycle continues. Unless you break that cycle, of course. Here’s how to curb your cell phone addiction.
Keep Notifications to a Minimum
If you keep active on social media, or have a bunch of apps on your phone, then odds are you’re pretty much always getting notifications. And by “always” we mean literally every half second. Meanwhile, about 99.9% of those notifications are absolutely meaningless. Your phone doesn’t need to be a stock ticker of useless information. Instead, go to your “settings” and turn off all your notifications. Then, at designated times, you can scroll through your Instagram feed and relish all those “likes” and comments at once, or collect all those coins from your favourite app.
Get Away from Your Phone for a While
You might be too young to remember it, but there was actually a time when people went out for walks or to events and…gasp…didn’t have a means of communication with the outside world. Yet somehow they survived. Incredible, right? Okay, not really. Where are we going with this you might ask? Well, one foolproof way to curb cell phone addiction is to simply rid yourself of your cell phone for certain periods of time. Start small by maybe going for a thirty-minute walk without your phone, and build out from there. The key is overcoming the associated anxiety you experience when phone-less. Once that primary hurdle is jumped, you might actually discover that living life and using technology don’t always have to go hand in hand.
Don’t Use Your Phone First Thing in the Morning or Last Thing at Night
There are numerous studies that will tell you it’s both psychologically and physiologically beneficial to avoid using your phone for the first half hour of the day and last hour of the night. In the morning, avoiding things like emails or texts will nurture a relaxed, distraction-free environment, allow you to streamline your itinerary, and help you get your day off on the right foot. You might quickly discover that all your work-related emails in particular can wait until you actually get to work. The reasons to avoid your phone at night are similar, but even more pressing, whereas multiple studies have shown that the light from your screen can legitimately mess with your circadian (i.e. sleep) rhythms.
Analyse Your Motives and Habits
While you’re figuring out how to curb cell phone addiction, you might want to ask yourself what led to that addiction in the first place. Is it because you crave validation? Because you’re bored? Because it eases anxiety? All of the above? By understanding what triggers your cell phone use, it becomes easier to find supplemental activities. For instance, if you use your phone primarily for social purposes, then ditch the device for a while and just hang out with some friends. If your phone use is related to anxiety or boredom, see if you can find an alternate hobby that similarly keeps you occupied. Don’t forget that ultimately, cell phones have a negative influence on your mental and physical state. Exercise, by contrast, will reap improvements on all fronts. And would it kill you to read a book every now and then?
Don’t Use Your Phone During Specific Activities
We’ve become such a technology-dependent society that we often use our phones while doing a range of peripheral activities like watching TV, driving, eating, hanging out with friends, and yes, even exercising. Work on reducing adjacent cell phone use one activity at a time. For instance, tell yourself that from this point forward, you’ll keep your phone out of sight when hanging out with friends. Then move on to the next activity, and so on. As with any addiction, it’s all about incremental steps. Then, one day, you might find yourself using your phone for communicating and little else. What a novel concept, indeed.
6 Apps to Stop Your Phone Addiction
- Offtime (iOS, Android)
- Moment (iOS)
- BreakFree (iOS, Android)
- Flipd (iOS, Android)
- AppDetox (Android)
- Stay on Task (Android)